Daily Blog •July 18, 2012

Who Will Win This Year's Heisman?

Since 1935, the best college football player of the season receives the Heisman Trophy, the most talked about award in college football. Every week, sports shows list which prospective candidates are rising & falling on the list to win the Trophy. I am proud to be a member of the Heisman voting committee.

Predicting who will win the Heisman is a tough task, even with a couple of weeks left in the regular season and there is always plenty of debate. With just a few weeks left in 2002’s race, Carson Palmer was not even in the Top 5 but he still ended up winning. Naturally, it is even tougher predicting the winner four months prior to the season.

In 1998 I listed Ricky Williams (Texas) as my Heisman Trophy favorite. Things did not look good for Ricky when Texas was humiliated by UCLA and Kansas St in B2B weeks and he had just average games in both. At the time it looked like his Heisman chances were GONE. When the smoke cleared Ricky broke the NCAA career rushing record and was the recipient of the coveted trophy.

In 1999 I listed Ron Dayne of Wisconsin as my Heisman favorite. Much like Ricky, Ron’s chances of winning the Heisman appeared to go out the window after Michigan shut him down and then he fumbled late in the Badgers’ upset loss to Cincinnati. When the season was over, Wisconsin was in the Rose Bowl and Dayne had broken Williams’ career rushing mark and won the Heisman.

In 2000 I had the only preseason publication in the country which called for Chris Weinke to win the Heisman and he was not even on many folks’ lists at the start of the year. This long shot simply delivered my THIRD straight winner, despite the big odds. Michael Vick was by far the preseason favorite in 2000 but came up short.

In 2001 I missed with Chris Simms but did have Heisman winner Eric Crouch listed as #3 coming into the year. It would have been tough to pick who was going to win the Heisman that year, even on the morning of the presentation, as the voting was one of the closest ever.

In 2002 NO ONE pegged Carson Palmer to win the Heisman prior to the year and he was about a 100-1 long shot over the summer but I did have him #7 on my list of Preseason Heisman Favorites.

In 2003 Jason White was posted at 30-1 odds to win the Heisman with 20 players listed ahead of him so another darkhorse won the award. In 2004 White finished 3rd in the voting but one of the favorites, Matt Leinart, took home the trophy.

In 2005 Leinart was my pick but he didn’t become the second two-time winner with his teammate Reggie Bush beating him out. If the vote had taken place AFTER the bowls, Vince Young of Texas most likely would have won it.

In 2006 the QB of the #1 team in the country led from start to finish in the Heisman race as Troy Smith took home the award in a landslide. In ‘07 Tim Tebow became the first soph to win it while in ‘08 Sam Bradford became the 2nd straight soph.

In 2009 RB Mark Ingram became Alabama’s first ever Heisman Trophy winner despite the preseason favorites being Tebow, Bradford and Colt McCoy. Stanford RB Toby Gerhart finished a very close 2nd!

In 2010 Cam Newton surprised everyone as a 1st year starter one year removed from JC. I had him as a “Possibility” but no one had him on their main preseason list.

Last year Robert Griffin III of Baylor, who I had listed again as a “Possibility”, edged out Andrew Luck of Stanford and my preseason favorite Trent Richardson of Alabama.

Here are my Favorites to win this year’s Heisman and current odds to win the award according to Bovada.com

1. Matt Barkley, USC 
Current Odds: 3/1

Barkley would likely have been the #2 pick in this past year’s NFL Draft but opted to return for his senior year. He QB’s a loaded USC team that will either be #1 or #2 in the preseason AP Poll and broke many USC season records last year. He could go down as one of the greatest USC QB’s of all-time which is saying a lot.

2. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Current Odds: 7/1

In 2010 Jones threw for 4,718 yds (66%) with 38 td’s in his 2nd year as a starter. LY his numbers tallied off after WR Ryan Broyles was injured but he still threw for 4,463 yards (63%, 29-15) and should have his best season yet as a senior. If Oklahoma plays in the national title game like I project, expect Jones to be a Heisman finalist.

3. EJ Manuel, Florida St
Current Odds: Longshot

I have high expectations for FSU this year as they are my pick to win the national title. Manuel is 6”5” 238 and is the most accurate FSU QB in history. He did not start 2 games LY and FSU lost both. If FSU indeed goes 12-0 like I project them to, Manuel should get an invite to New York.

4. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Current Odds: 16/1

LY Wilson, in his first year as a starter, threw for 3,638 yards (63%) with a 24-6 ratio despite getting thrown around like a rag doll at times. This year he will have better protection and be among the nation’s passing leaders in the wide open Hog offense. Remember UA gets both Bama and LSU at home and an upset in either one of those would put Wilson near the top on many lists.

5. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Current Odds: 15/1

After making a big splash as a true frosh, Lattimore rushed for 818 yards (5.0) in just 7 starts in ‘11 before being lost to injury. If healthy, he could be the top RB in the country playing on a dangerous team in the SEC.

6. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Current Odds: 5/1

Ball was a Heisman finalist in ‘11 and tied Barry Sanders’ single season TD record with 39 while also leading the nation in rushing yards with 1,923 (6.3). He turned down the NFL and will be the focal point of the Badger offense once again. I picked Wisconsin to go to the Rose Bowl and if that happens, Ball will be in New York for a 2nd year in a row.

7. Denard Robinson, Michigan
Current Odds: 11/2

Michigan will be the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten and Robinson is arguably the most electrifying player in the country. He has recorded B2B 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing seasons. He could gave stronger numbers this season in his 2nd year in Brady Hokes’s offense but with a much tougher schedule will the Wolverines win enough games to get Robinson an invite to New York?

8. Geno Smith, West Virginia
Current Odds: 15/2

Smith adapted well to HC Dana Holgorsen’s offense in 2011 and now has a full year under his belt with one of the top receiving corps in the country. He had 401 yards and 6 td’s in the Orange Bowl and should finish again with more than 4,000 yds passing.

9. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Current Odds: Longshot

Thomas got better by the week last year and now is in his 2nd full year at QB. The 6’6” 262 lb QB was recruited as a TE (PS#3)! The offense without the services of RB Wilson could be more reliant on Thomas’ legs which means he could have a season with 3,000 yds passing and at least 500 yds rushing with at least a combined 30 TD’s (pass/run).

10. Sammy Watkins, Clemson
Current Odds: 25/1

The nation’s best true frosh in ‘11. He had 1,219 (14.9) yards receiving, 838 in returns AND 231 rushing (7.2) despite only starting 10 games. I talk to Gil Brandt regularly and Sammy Watkins would have been the 1st WR taken according to many NFL scouts in the NFL Draft this past year!

This list is heavy on experienced QB’s and RB’s who could put up big stats for National Title contenders, which has been the formula for 9 of the last 11 Heisman Trophy winners.

Tyrann Mathieu, LSU                    Current Odds: 35/1
Aaron Murray, Georgia                  Current Odds: 15/1
AJ McCarron, Alabama                  Current Odds: 20/1
Knile Davis, Arkansas                    Current Odds: Longshot
Rex Burkhead, Nebraska               Current Odds: 25/1
Braxton Miller, Ohio St                  Current Odds: Longshot
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford               Current Odds: Longshot
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska             Current Odds: 30/1
Collin Klein, Kansas St                   Current Odds: Longshot
Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St          Current Odds: Longshot
Kenny Stills, Oklahoma                  Current Odds: 75/1
Tavon Austin, West Virginia           Current Odds: Longshot
Casey Pachall, TCU                        Current Odds: Longshot
Tyler Bray, Tennessee                   Current Odds: Longshot
Kenjon Barner, Oregon                  Current Odds: Longshot                       
Robert Woods, USC                        Current Odds: 35/1
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville          Current Odds: Longshot
Tajh Boyd, Clemson                       Current Odds: 35/1

Here are some quality players who will put up big stats but aren’t likely to be playing for a National Title contender or may play for a contender but could split votes with other prime players. The following players are in no particular order:

De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon             Current Odds: 20/1
Keith Price, Washington                     Current Odds: 30/1
Giovani Bernard, North Carolina         Current Odds: 55/1
James Franklin, Missouri                    Current Odds: 60/1
Malcolm Brown, Texas                       Current Odds: 75/1
BJ Daniels, USF
Silas Redd, Penn St
Ryan Aplin, Arkansas St
Matt Scott, Arizona
Ray Graham, Pittsburgh
Keenan Allen, California
Marquess Wilson, Washington St
Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
DJ Harper, Boise St
Christine Michael, Texas A&M
Alex Carder, Western Michigan
Tyler Tettleton, Ohio
Zach Line, SMU
Derek Carr, Fresno St
Jeff Tuel, Washington St
John White, Utah
Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas
Bryn Renner, North Carolina
Keenan Davis, Iowa
Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
Cameron Marshall, Arizona St
Marqise Lee, USC
Cierre Wood, Notre Dame
Mike Glennon, NC State
Derek Carr, Fresno St
Eddie Lacy, Alabama

Let me know who you think will win the Heisman on Facebook or Twitter!

Only 43 Days Left Until the First College Football Game!